As mentioned last week, 1992 was a big year for the X-MEN franchise: the animated series made its debut, the comics were Marvel's top selling titles month after month, and of course there were a line of toys hitting stores! But with so many characters in the X-Universe, how would Toy Biz possibly fit them all into the series? The answer was simple: start a new spin-off toy line called X-Men - X-Force!
Once upon a time, Professor X thought the X-Men had been killed (again?...but really they were trapped in space making their way back to Earth), so he started up a new team of students called the New Mutants. This team had various misadventures under his leadership, as well as under the tutelage of Magneto! (This was during a time when we saw a "softer side" to the villain.) But when both Professor X and Magneto left the students all on their own, a mysterious cyborg named Cable showed up to mentor the team not only in using their powers, but in taking a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach to protecting the world. The New Mutants title was soon canceled, only to be relaunched as X-FORCE! The comics sold phenomenally well, so it was a logical move to tap into the title's popularity.
Several characters from the X-Force team made cameos in the X-Men animated series, most notably Cable, but there were others that showed up in small roles, in group scenes, on monitors in the X-Men's war room, on news broadcasts, and even in dream sequences. These guest spots most likely went over the heads of the casual fan, but for those of us in the know, we ate it up! The more mutants, the better!
Action Figures - Wave 1
These X-FORCE toys were in the same style as the early X-Men line, so the proportions were still a bit off and the figures were loaded with action features...some worked well, others didn't. But for those of us who collected the toys, it was more about the character choices than the features or accessories. On that front, this line did not disappoint. Although most of the characters were relatively new, the comic's popularity made them feel like old friends...
The no-nonsense leader of the team featured several limits by way of articulation, but the sculpting looked like it jumped right off the printed page. I'm not sure that ANYONE can wear that outfit and actually move around in it, but whatever...As an added bonus, Cable included a chopping arm action feature.
Before he was the "Merc-with-a-Mouth", there wasn't a whole lot known about Deadpool. This figure included several bladed weapons, including a retractable knife that was permanently attached to his hand. Deadpool's history would be revealed over time, tieing him to several of the major characters in the X-Universe.
Part of the Mutant Liberation Front, which was a new team of villains for X-Force to fight. Thankfully, they didn't last, and this lame character has faded from most fan's memories. The action feature was just as lame as the character...the arms all rotate, but they rotate INTO each other!
Another lame character from the early issues of the series. I mean, a bald guy with a long ponytail? Please! I think there was a plan to make the X-Ternals into a major threat (something to do with Cannonball or Sunspot), but I honestly can't recall if anything was done with that. The figure includes the standard punching action feature, as well as a sword that was "hidden" in a briefcase. Okay, that bit was kind of neat...
Another new character introduced to the series, G.W. Bridge had the thankless task of hunting down Cable for S.H.I.E.L.D. Whatever happened to this guy? He got old and fat and last showed up in the new Punisher War Journal title. He should have stayed retired. This figure does pretty much nothing, but the rifle makes a 'clicking' sound.
When this guy was introduced, he was touted as the "new Weapon X", and the Wolverine fans among us wouldn't hear of it! Later, Kane was revealed to be a member of Cable's "Wild Pack" team, and he eventually faded back into obscurity. The figure included a snap-back left hand, that worked really well, so that's something I guess.
One of the more popular new members of the X-Force team, Shatterstar literally dropped out of thin air and started fighting. Aside from a ridiculous outfit, this figure included a pair of double-bladed swords that he could swing back and forth to attack.
The leader of the MLF, Stryfe was a mysterious silver-armored villain who led a militant group of renegade mutants. Sounds like the perfect team for X-Force to fight. The big shocker at the end of the first issue was when Stryfe removed his helmet and revealed himself to be....Cable?? Yeahbutwha--? Actually, it turned out to be a clone of Cable...much better. This figure included that reveal scene with a flip-up mask, which is as goofy as it sounds.
The younger brother of the former X-Man Thunderbird, Warpath has always had the weight of the world on his shoulders....which may explain the big shoulder pads. One of my friends actually cut them off, therefore making an instant custom of Thunderbird....not a bad idea, since Toy Biz wouldn't get around to making a Thunderbird figure for a few years yet...
I'm in New York reporting from the New York Comic Con all weekend long, so be sure to stay tuned to this site for all the news I can get from the show, including a sneak peek at the future of the Marvel Universe line!
As a special bonus, be sure to stay tuned throughout the weekend for more figures from the X-Force lineup! Because I can't work all the time, and I know you'll want something to read while I'm offline, the rest of the figures in this line will be spotlighted in a series of special follow-up reports. Enjoy!
Special Reports: "Flashback Friday Follow-Up" Posts
Action Figures - Wave 2
Click on the thumbnail above for a review on the figures from wave 2!
Action Figures - Wave 3
Click on the thumbnail above for a review on the figures from wave 3!
Action Figures - Wave 4
Click on the thumbnail above for a review on the figures from wave 4!
Action Figures - Wave 5
Click on the thumbnail above for a review on the figures from wave 5!
Action Figures - Wave 6
Click on the thumbnail above for a review on the figures from wave 6 (and some info on wave 7)!
Overall, you can see that Toy Biz took a lot of chances with the X-Force line. Although the title was still very popular with fans, not all of the characters were particularly well-known, and some of the villains were either X-Men cast-offs or brand new characters that fans may never have heard of before. The aggressive style from the comics came through with each figure, and there were some cool action features with each wave. The more popular characters got multiple versions along with way, as they changed their outfits in the comics to match.
With a new line of Marvel Universe toys right around the corner, you can envision where that line could potentially go with the variety of character choices, both well-known and very obscure. Stay tuned this weekend for a lot of new Marvel announcements from Toy Fair, as we will be live in New York getting all the latest news and photos!
See you after Toy Fair!